Higher Ed Giving Is Up, But Focused Heavily On 20 Schools


According to a recently released report, colleges across the United States raised $40.3 billion in 2015, a 7.6% increase over last year and the largest amount on record.  Giving to institutions of higher education has been found to have increased every year since 2010.

The Voluntary Support of Education survey conducted by the Council for Aid to Education looked at fundraising information from almost 1,000 schools across the country.  The $40.3 billion is an estimate that includes numbers from those institutions that did not respond to the survey.

Close to 29% of all the money raised in 2015 went to just 20 schools, with Stanford University raising the most.  The school has come in at the top of the list for 10 of the last 11 years.

Stanford raised a total of $1.63 billion in 2015.  Included in that total is $622 million in art given in the last fiscal year, $801.6 million in cash donations, and $201.1 million in support for the two hospitals owned by the school.

Harvard University came in second place with $1.05 billion in gifts.  The two schools were the only ones to raise more than one billion in a single year.  The University of Southern California came in third place with $653.03 million.

Lawmakers have considered requiring those schools who receive at least $1 billion in endowments to put one quarter of the donations toward financial aid, writes Aimee Picchi for CBS News.

Wild donation differences between individual schools were also found by the report.  Over one-fourth of the total, $11.6 billion, went to a group of just 20 schools, mostly made up of private universities.

While financial gifts from alumni made up another quarter of the total, 15% came from corporations, reports Ivana Kottasova for CNN.

Eight gifts to four universities were worth more than $100 million each, for a total of $1.44 billion.  The gifts included art given to Stanford and rare books offered to Princeton University.  The amount was more than all of the money raised by the 490 universities with the smallest donations combined.

Gifts offered by individual alumni increased by 10.2%, making up 26.9% of all donations made at $10.85 billion.  Giving by people who did not graduate from the colleges they donated to also increased by 23.1%.  Meanwhile, corporate giving remained stagnant while gifts from family foundations rose by 3.6%.

While contributions made for current college operations increased by 13.1%, donations made for capital purposes, including endowments and campus buildings, did not see a change.  The council believes this to be due to weak stock market performance in 2015 along with the fact that gifts for capital purposes had increased by 23.3% the previous year, which may have set the bar too high for 2015, writes Rebecca Koenig for Philanthropy.

Total endowment values among survey respondents increased by just 3% in 2015 in comparison to 15% in 2014.

The council predicts that charitable donations to US colleges and universities will continue to increase at a modest rate through 2016.

The survey has been conducted by the Council for Aid to Education every year since 1957.